Concert Review: Ted Nugent (Pepsi Arena, Albany, New York, June 30, 1999)

You’d be hard pressed to create a fantasy human being more diametrically opposed to all of my sociopolitical beliefs than the very real and very scary Ted Nugent. See, I’m an anti-gun, anti-hunting, anti-meat, anti-NRA, anti-Republican, non-flag worshiping, pro-choice, pro-free trade, pro-legalization, non-jingoistic, socialistic, left-wing, Metroland-reading, pinko, commie, dirtbag maggot puke do-gooder. And Ted (as everyone in the Pepsi Arena last Wednesday referred to him, all convivial like), to put it mildly, is not: he pals around with Chuck Heston, shoots elephants, runs his own beef jerky plant and produces graphic bow-hunting videos filled with loving, slo-mo gut shots. Ewww.

But, then, that’s the whole beauty of rock n’ roll: it’s supposed to offend sensibilities, so in an era when other pinko, commie dirtbag maggot puke do-gooders diligently enforce our team’s politically-correct-to-a-fare-thee-well agenda, it’s kinda nice to wallow in the viscera with the live-free-or-die crowd every now and again. Or re-wallow, actually, since I had experienced Ted (we’re friends here, right?) in concert once already, some twenty years ago, before his dogma had cohered quite as forcibly and lucidly as it has in the ’90s.

And so what effect did Ted’s dogmatic coming-of-rage have upon last week’s concert? Well, honestly, not much of one at all: most of the songs played at the Pepsi Arena were also on the 1979 set list, Nugent looks almost exactly the same now as he did then, the volume was excruciating during both concerts and Ted did his damnedest, then and now, to live up to his “Motor City Madman” moniker. Which he did, both times, offering big rock n’ roll fun without a shred of pretension and with nary a trace of fat or gristle to mar the choice cuts of musical meat tossed out to his ardent, clearly carnivorous admirers.

There were, however, two notable new (relatively speaking) songs that clearly reflected Ted’s current worldviews: “Fred Bear” (which provided an epic-length exposition on Ted’s hunting philosophies) and “Kiss My Ass” (which summed up the man’s position regarding all the folks I voted for in the last two national elections). But, y’know, God bless rock n’ roll and God bless America, if for no other reason than for producing entertaining ideologues like Ted Nugent, then letting ’em say and do pretty much what they want to do, then letting me disagree with them-while enjoying their guitar-playing and cool zebra striped suits despite myself.

Slaughter and Quiet Riot opened the evening with exceedingly lame sets, although the Riot boys get a nod in the evening’s rankings for seeming to actually realize that what they were doing was stupid beyond belief. Night Ranger, on the other hand, put on an entirely credible set that made even their cheesiest ’80s hits (most notably “Sister Christian” and “You Can Still Rock in America”) sound powerful and righteous. Color me impressed, particularly when soulful, sincere drummer Kelly Keaggy handled the vocal chores.

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